Wild Turkey 81 Proof replaced a previous 80 Proof version around 6/7 years ago as the entry-level bottling in the distillery’s range. I’ve read online that this is not just a difference of 0.5% ABV to the liquid, but that the newer 81 Proof bottling is aged for an additional 2-4 years over its predecessor. Whether this is true of not, it’s not clearly stated on the label – and 81 sounds a lot more ‘in step’ with the next whiskey in the series, the 101 Proof, so perhaps there’s a combination of factors in play here – older liquid and some consistent brand identity.
The bottling comes from the distillery’s standard bourbon mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% barley.
Nose: Gentle and sweet typical bourbon flavours – caramel, vanilla, and corn. There’s some additional aromas here – sugar coated apples, butter, sawdust and PVA wood glue. It’s all quite light and pretty inoffensive.
Taste: All the flavours are here – caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and toasted corn – but they’re a little washed out in an underpowered arrival that delivers thinly. As with the nose, it’s all rather gentle, but does have some additional interesting flavours on the mid-palate: oranges and pear, freshly sawn wood planking, honey and some every so slight salinity. In the back palate, there’s still a touch of youthfulness, not quite ‘burn’, but certainly a little raw.
Finish: Short to medium and delivering vanilla, caramel and sweet corn flavours.
Wild Turkey 81 Proof is a perfectly acceptable entry-level bottling from the distillery. It’s well priced within its category and as such most people would not have a problem using this with a mixer – and that’s what I believe it’s best for. All the typical bourbon flavours are present and correct, but they’re muted and relatively watery compared to what you might think of a big-hitting bourbon. As such, this would work well in a mixed drink, bringing the bourbon flavour, but not overpowering any other ingredients with a huge ABV. Available currently from Master of Malt for £22.75.